This bill provides a definition for a Foreign Agent which I find too problematic. It requires a commitment being made for foreign funding. Commitments are often understood rather than expressed. And the commitment is defined as to advance the interests of a foreign government or the interests of non-Israeli citizens. I would rather it dispense with the commitment part and apply to any NGO that gets foreign government money, directly or indirectly.
Also I object to the idea that it is enough to advance transparency. Why not make it illegal for any NGO to obtain foreign government money. Ted Belman
The bill would mandate greater transparency on the part of NGOs that are funded by foreign governments, and cancel their tax-free status
MK Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) told a Knesset committee Tuesday that in two weeks, she will submit a bill based on the US’s Foreign Agent Registration Law, in an effort to make it more difficult for hostile NGOs to operate inside Israel.
The bill would mandate greater transparency on the part of NGOs that are funded by foreign governments, and cancel the tax-free status they enjoy.
Two previous bills meant to make it harder for hostile leftist NGOs to operate in Israel were blocked by the same NGOs and their supporters.
The bill would create a mechanism that defines as a foreign agent a body that receives funding from a foreign state, in return for a commitment to advance that state’s interests, or the interests of people who are not Israeli citizens.
Such a body would have to report the identity of the state to which it gave its commitments, the details of the assistance it received, a full description of its commitments to the foreign entity and a full description of the activity it intends to carry out.
The body would have to note in all of its documents, and on its internet website, that it is defined as foreign agent.
In addition, the tax-free status of foreign contributions to the body would be canceled. The foreign funds it receives will be taxed, thus removing an important incentive to such groups’ activities.
“These organizations, which operate with a lack of transparency as regards the goals of their activity, and under a guise of organizations that operate for the Israeli interest, are eligible for tax-free status nowadays, although the Israeli public does not benefit from their activities and the goal of the groups is to benefit foreign interests,” the bill’s explanatory notes say.
One of the two earlier bills that sought to limit the operations of radical leftist NGOs would have taxed donations they received from foreign state entities, while the other sought to block registration of the NGOs if they negated the Jewish character of the state of Israel. Both failed to pass.
The new version of the bill may be more in line with the recommendations made by NGO Monitor in the wake of the previous bills.
Bennett seeking funds
At a hearing of the Knesset Caucus to Combat De-legitimization of Israel, headed by MK Nissim Ze’ev and with the involvement of Im Tirtzu, Shaked said that a government body should be set up to deal with the de-legitimization war against Israel.
“We asked the prime minister to define de-legitimization as a strategic threat so that he will allocate resources and a budget – like the funds for the battle against Iran’s nuclear program – to set up a department or other government body to combat de-legitimization.
“The threat of de-legitimization nibbles away at Israel’s legitimate right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state. We have not been able to create a professional system with a significant budget. It should be the responsibility of the prime minister and Minister Bennett has been in contact with him several times on the subject.
“To date, tens of millions of shekels have been invested in combating the nuclear threat from Iran. Even a tenth of this budget could be invested in combating the de-legitimization war against Israel.”
Dr. Ronen Shoval, founder of Im Tirtzu, said that the Israeli government should give priority to the fight against de-legitimization, saying “we can’t win against incitement on a snack budget.”
It was also reported at the hearing that many Israeli opinion shapers are calling on European countries to not recognize a Palestinian state unilaterally. Israelis from the left had initiated a petition calling on European states to follow other states that had already recognized a Palestinian state.